Two weeks of pecking away at a short story that “should” have worked — similar in spirit to other stories that are coming along nicely, but different enough to be a completely new story — and this morning I tossed it. For now, at least. It just wasn’t working. The developments in the story were boring me — and this in a story that was supposed to be humorous. The only completely unforgivable sin in writing, is to not be interesting.
Writing humorously wasn’t working. I needed to tap into some misery instead. But what misery? I looked inward, and two subjects popped into mind pretty quickly: my hometown, and my ex-wife. Now we’re getting somewhere. About 1,400 words since this morning on a new story inspired by them, plus another 600 words of notes on characters and plot developments. Not my largest output for a day, but more progress than I was making on the previous story.
Thank goodness for misery! and ex-spouses!* and desolate and depressing hometowns! What would writers do without such things? (And don’t even get me started on poets.)
*My apologies. I pride myself on being as non-sexist as possible, and the first version of this post (and the email version, if you subscribe) came out as “ex-wives.” I am well aware that spouses of any gender can be miserable human beings, and that opinions can vary as to which partner (if any) in a failed marriage is the ditwad. I was focused on my own particular situation at the time I wrote this. In which situation, I was and remain firmly on my own side.